“Localization” or the translation of documents into multiple languages and their adaptation to local cultures, is a fast developing communication niche.
We live in a “globalized” world. These days not only the goods and services but also all kinds of documents are shipped to (or are accessed from) all kinds of locations around the world. That creates lucrative new business opportunities for writers who can write and speak multiple languages.
However, localization is not an easy process. Translation and linguistic excellence is certainly at the heart of any localization project. But there is a lot more to it.
If you do not plan for a localization project in advance and take the necessary precautions in the preparatory phase, you can end up with a bungled up project, unnecessary headaches, a tarnished reputation, and perhaps even a lawsuit since localization delays cost corporations a lot of money.
7 Tips for Localizing Your Documents:
Here are seven things you should pay attention to in any localization project:
1) Do you have all the files you need to work with before you start translating the “document” (which can of course actually be a web site, help file, etc. as well)?
Make sure you have all the GUI (Graphical User Interface) files regardless of the format since you may need to translate labels, captions and any text on any GUI element as well.
2) If you’ll localize a help file, do you have all the source files (including all the topic files, multi-media and image files, the main project file, etc.) at hand?
3) Do you have all the manuals and written/printed documentation relating to the project? You may be asked only to localize the “ABC User’s Guide” but if the client also has an “ABC System Administrator Guide” you need to have that as well for reference. You never know when you might need such “secondary” sources.
4) Which deliverables are needed for which “territory tier”? Companies usually divide the world into “tiers.” The first tier, for example, may include US, Canada, and European Union. The second tier may cover Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Serbia. A third tier may include India, Japan, China, etc
Make sure you know exactly what your client needs for each of these different tiers. For example, they may need localization of all printed manuals, GUI, help file and the web site for Tier 1 but only the GUI and help file for Tier 2 and only the web site for Tier 3, etc.
5) Do you have a project calendar, a delivery schedule, and did you have it approved by the client before you even begin the work?
6) Have you decided with the client on the best communication method that you will use? How will you transfer the files back and forth? Mainly by email? Snail mail? UPS? On CDs? How will you reach the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts)? Email or telephone? Fax? Etc.
7) How will the work in progress be reviewed and approved? Who will be on your review team and how many drafts will be reviewed before the final copy is delivered? Which version or document management system will be used during the review process to make sure all reviewers are on the same page and unnecessary replication of effort is avoided?
To your global success!